Global Economic Warfare at Center of Ag Committee Trade Hearing
The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing on October 20th , the centerpoint of which was a discussion of the predatory cronyist practices of America’s global competitors.
In light of recent votes on Trade Promotion Authority, and the upcoming discussion of the Trans Pacific Partnership, Committee Chairman K. Michael Conway put together a program of representatives of a range of agricultural interests—with a very clear message: nations around the world are actively subsidizing their farming sectors with the intention of subverting US firms, and while the TPP would help to open markets heretofore restricted to US goods, a central issue is this anti-competitive crony capitalism, which needs to be addressed by the World Trade Organization.
In his opening statement, Chairman Conway said, “in many cases what foreign countries are doing is patently illegal under their World Trade Organization commitments, while in other instances, foreign countries are extending support to their agricultural sectors in ways that fly below the radar of WTO discipline. And still in other cases, we learned of countries getting a free pass to ignore WTO rules by declaring themselves “developing” despite these countries having very mature, strong, and in some cases globally dominant agricultural sectors.”
Unfortunately, free trade agreements are not the way to deal with these subsidies. Jack Roney, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis with the American Sugar Alliance called this perhaps, ““the biggest flaw in the bilateral and regional approach.”
And concern was bi-partisan. Ranking Democrat Collin Peterson said, “I don't think it's fair that developing countries, no matter how advanced, can designate themselves for special treatment… I also think it's time for the United States to start challenging those countries that fail to meet their WTO commitments.”
All agreed, our competitors cannot flout the rules, and that cheating must be addressed.